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John Quincy Adams to Louise Catherine Johnson

27 Feb. 1797

The Hague February 27. 1797.

Since the date of my last Letter (the 20th.) I have not had the pleasure of receiving any from you. Whenever the Post from Bremen arrives without bringing me a new Letter of my friend, I endeavour to find some consolation in perusing over again some of her old ones. Such has now been my occupation.—I have read over not only the Letters dictated by her tenderness and affection, and breathing all her natural loveliness of disposition, but even those which speak the language of reproach; which complain of harshness and unkindness from me, and which tell me that I know not with what a spirited Lady I have to deal.

Whenever a difference arises between friends, it is of the utmost importance to the Peace and happiness of both parties that each should scrutinize and judge himself with rigour, and extend all his candour and benevolence to his friend; that he should check every tendency in himself to say things for the sake of their severity, and distrust his own sensations at what is said to him. That he should discard his pride, his vanity, his self-complacency, and if he allows himself any departure from the most rigorous Justice, it should be in aggravating its severity against himself, and enlarging its liberality towards his friend. Such a temper of mind is above all necessary between the dearest friends, and I feel therefore the duty of preserving it with you.—Upon the first perusal of two or three late Letters from you, my selfish passions were irritated, and although I am clearly conscious of having always retained the predominance of my affection for you over all other sentiments, yet upon sober reflection, at a moment when I am perfectly calm, I am suspicious of having in my turn sometimes replied with acrimony, and taken for firmness, what in truth was only temper.—If this be the case let me request your indulgence to overlook and forgive every such expression, and I am persuaded that you \will/ feel the more readily disposed to do so, if you recollect the terms in which you have repeatedly written to me.

In your Letter of Decr: 31. you severely censure yourself for the lines which you formerly wrote relative to a young Man, whose situation was to be pitied rather than derided. This censure my Louisa, is partly just. I never thought those lines creditable to you; but this acknowledgment of your own is a full proof, that they proceeded, not from a defect of the heart, but merely from a sportive disposition combined with a lively imagination, and not invariably under the controul of Justice.

In that same Letter you tell me that Coll: T. is a great man, and thereforeyou do not see him often.—There is something sarcastic in this remark, which I hope was not deserved, because the person to whom it relates is my friend, and was yours.—Shall I add Louisa, that I believe it was not deserved, because I have so good an opinion of the Gentleman’s character, as to be persuaded that no change in his situation would produce an alteration in his conduct towards his friends.—If you only meant that his duties now employ necessarily so much of his time that he cannot see you so frequently as heretofore, your observation would have assumed a different form.

I have nothing new to tell you that could amuse you, and I am almost afraid to say any thing upon the subject of my books, which seem to be obnoxious to you, especially since the success of my recommendation of Madame de Stael’s new Work, which was perfectly harmless and accidental; I certainly did not mean to recommend its principles many of which I utterly disapprove.

Mr: Pinckney, who was to have been the American Minister in France, but was not received has arrived with his family at Amsterdam; but I have not yet seen him.

Will you have the goodness to tell your father that the box, which he was kind enough to send by Mr: Clason, has arrived safe at Amsterdam, and I shall get it in a day or two.—At the same time I would renew my thanks for his care in forwarding it.

I have no Letters from America since I wrote you last, and my Boston friends in general are indifferent correspondents, as is usual with almost every body on that side of the Water.—But for you, I should have been still ignorant of my friend Hubbard’s marriage, and of that intended by Mr: Apthorp and Miss Foster. Who the Miss Paterson can be that Hubbard married I cannot guess; there was no such Lady in Boston when I left it: whoever she be I hope her partner will never regret the exchange which his fortune made necessary. In the other case too I wish an happy and prosperous union to both the parties, and particularly that before the irrevocable conclusion, the Lady may ascertain to her own satisfaction, that she really has an attachment for the Gentleman; a circumstance however which, all things considered, I see no reason to doubt.

Your brother’s friend and my frient Otis, is to represent the district to which I belong in the next Congress of the United States, where he will certainly do himself, his district and his Country honour. His predecessor Mr: Ames was also a Man of great talents and eloquence. It gives me a great delight and pride in my Countrymen, when I see them thus sagacious in discerning and wise in distinguishing and employing men of merit.—Do not think my friend that this Sentiment comes too near home, to be disinterested. If I know myself the motives that inspire it, they are those of the purest Patriotism

With my best remembrance to all the family I remain ever affectionately yours.  


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